Firelands Employer Resource Network (FERN)
An innovative approach to workforce development
The newly established Firelands Employer Resources Network (FERN) assists area businesses with business growth, retention, and productivity through advocacy, resource navigation, and coaching to enhance the lives of employees and empower them to achieve their unique potential. Transforming one employee at a time with its onsite Wellness Coaching model, public sector partnership, and ERN® USA national support.

Initiated in West Michigan in 2007, the success of the ERN® USA and its approach has led to 27 ERN’s in 12 states with over 200 participating employers. Firelands Forward officially established FERN February 2022 to offer services to companies in Erie, Huron, and Ottawa Counties as community leaders and businesses took action to address employee retention challenges and turned these to an innovative approach to offer employee support by proactively addressing employment barriers, life difficulties, and personal development.
Fast Facts
  • The cost to replace an employee is up to two-times that employee's yearly salary. 
  • 40% of job turnover is due to stress. 
  • 79% employees reported burnout in the most recent APA Work and Well-being survey 
So how does it work? Employers invest and customize the onsite Wellness Coaching hours where, at no cost to the employee, employees can meet in-person with the Wellness Coach in a private and confidential space. Additionally, employees can access this service any other time by simply calling or texting their Wellness Coach. In turn, the Wellness Coach helps employees with transportation challenges, childcare barriers, navigating public assistance programs, professional coaching, and connecting to counseling. For example, an employee receiving a notice of utility disconnect creates a risk of major employment setback with the accrued costs to the employer in lost productivity from presenteeism, absenteeism, and the overall wellbeing of the employee as an integral part of the business team’s ability to operate.

Businesses create a flourishing environment to grow, because employees create value and a cohesive culture for success.

In the first eight months of the newly established program, FERN proudly serves nine area employers, has aided over 80 employees seeking support delivering over 350 services or referrals. Based on increased retention, reducing turnover cost has resulted in an average 400% Return on Investment for participating employers. FERN has not done this alone, as community collaboration is imperative to serve employee needs. FERN is grateful to work with more than 80 community organizations to leverage established resources and create community wellness awareness through recent wellness initiatives, social media topic interviews, and participation in local committees that address socio-economic and racial disparities.
Did You Know?
The Firelands Employer Resource Network is expanding capacity in 2023 in order to serve more local employers and employees in the Firelands Region. Those interested in learning more should contact Luis Quezada or Dave White.
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The 12 Days of Development email series recognizes and celebrates another year of progress in Erie County, Ohio. December 1st - 12th, you will receive email spotlights on a company investing, improving and innovating in our community. We can't capture it all, so let us know a neighbor we missed or what activities you've got planned to make the 2023 list! #ErieCounty12Days